Whether your aim is to showcase your company, sell your products online, or run a blog: You can only inspire your visitors to stay on your site if they don’t feel the need to leave in a hurry.
Simply put yourself in the other person’s shoes: How do you behave when you enter a particular shop for the first time? And what do you do when you visit a new website?
Correct – first, you have a look around. Your first impression is therefore often crucial in terms of how you feel, whether you decide to take a closer look, or whether you turn around and get yourself out of there quickly. Of course, your actions also depend on whether you are actually interested in what the page covers.
What does all this mean for your website?
“Bounce rate” is the name given to the most important factor by which you can identify this online flight behaviour: However, unlike what our cover picture might suggest, this term has nothing to do jumping from great heights. Rather, the bounce rate specifies the percentage of visitors that leave your website immediately after accessing an individual page. This value is issued to you by ➔ Google Analyticsand by many other website tracking applications. A low bounce rate is desirable if the success of your website depends on interactions with users (as is the case with most websites).
To reduce the bounce rate, you first need to understand why some of your visitors always make a quick U-turn. Once that is clear, you can take countermeasures. We have therefore compiled a short list of useful tips and tricks both for those starting out and those at a more advanced level:
1. Avoid long loading times
We’d like to put the most obvious stuff right at the beginning: Avoid long loading times as much as you can – or visitors may leave your website before it even has a chance to load fully. As a result, potentially interesting information may well never be read.
Loading times may rocket dramatically if the website features large images, complex and convoluted programming, and a lack of optimisation for different devices. Your site may also be slowed down by the simultaneous integration of a number of systems from third-party providers (e.g. for tracking or ad-delivery). And of course, the connection of the website’s hosting-server is just as relevant.* Every little detail that you change in this regard may have a major impact on the loading time and thus the bounce rate.
TOOL TIP There are some useful tools for testing the speed of your website. Google, with its ➔ Page Speed Insightsprovides you with a corresponding tool for this purpose too: Simply enter the address and click “Analyze”. Google then scans the website and provides you with some specific suggestions for improvement. Even if you may not be able to implement many of the proposed changes for technical reasons, the list of suggestions may have one or two useful approaches.
2. Design your website to be simple and clear
Once a user takes the time to visit your website, the first important step has already been taken. But be careful: If they can’t find their way around your website and get the feeling they’ve landed in the wrong place, they’ll soon be gone again! You should therefore design your website to be as simple and clear as possible.
“Less is more” also applies if we’re talking about the design of the website: Too many individual elements can be confusing and distracting. Instead, try to direct the visitor’s attention to the desired areas using fewer elements and a clear, eye-catching display. This applies as much to the layout as it does to the structure of texts and selection of images.
Similarly, you should also proceed with caution when designing the menu: A simple structure with a few menu items is always preferable to an overflowing menu with lots of submenus.**
However, you should also pay attention to the legibility of your texts: Use larger fonts and divide your texts into paragraphs. If your texts get too long, you can use subheadings to organise and break things up.
As already mentioned, your web presence should also be adapted for various different devices. The key term here is “responsive design”: This entails the corresponding design and programming of a website so that the display automatically adjusts itself to the relevant screen size and resolution. The type of interaction (mouse cursor, finger, language) has to be be taken into account here as well.
MARKETING TIP If you have access to the right marketing tools, you can examine the effect of different display variants and layouts by using the so-called “A/B tests”. In this instance, for example, you may create two different versions of the same landing page in order to test which of the two variants works better in otherwise identical framework conditions.**
3. Improve the quality of your content
What applies to your website’s design naturally applies to its content, too: To avoid giving the impression of exploiting or scamming the user, your content has to be authentic, credible and serious.
You should therefore try to find out which contents are relevant and interesting to your target audience, consider the expectations of the users, and do without all the other unnecessary ballast. There’s already way too much spamming on the Internet anyway!
It is also important that you keep the texts on your site as short, simple and concise as possible! You should only ever use technical jargon if it is absolutely necessary – and even then you should make sure that these terms are explained accordingly. You’ll never give the impression of being “better” or “more professional” if you try to squeeze loads of technical terms and abbreviations into long and complicated sentences.
The quality of the contents is also an important factor when it comes to having your website rated by Google and other search engines. High-quality content is not just crucial in terms of reducing your bounce rate. It also contributes to increasing the number of page views, results in more time spent on your site, and produces a better search engine ranking.
4. Do not bombard your visitors with ads
Naturally enough, you’d like to earn some money from your website. Whereas those operating a web shop can sell goods directly, running e.g. a blog means that you have very few alternatives to placing ads. ➔Google AdSensein particular, is a very popular service in this market, as it even allows operators of small websites to earn a bit of cash along the way.
However, don’t forget to put yourself in the shoes of the visitors to your site: Ultimately, you too wouldn’t like to be bombarded with a ton of ads. Not only can this be a major distraction, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence or give the impression that this is a serious site, too. As with everything, finding the right balance is important. If in doubt, you can follow the “Less is more” mantra here too.
5. Address the right audience
However, all of the above measures will have been largely in vain, if you fail to reach the type of people who are actually interested in your contents. To achieve this objective, you also need to optimise your site for search engines accordingly: Tailor all your content to your desired audience and do not forget to insert internal links in places where it actually makes sense to do so!
MARKETING TIP Once you have defined a suitable target audience, you may also consider placing ads on Google’s search results pages: With ➔ Google Adsyou’ll be able to target and reach users interested precisely in your contents and products, even by investing only small amounts of money. These users will have a lower bounce probability from the outset and ideally may even be a catalyst for further organic traffic.**
Putting just a few of these tips into practice may quickly create measurable results! But don’t expect miracles, even if you have exhausted all avenues: A general target cannot be set, since the usual bounce rates depend greatly on the content and subject of the site.*** In fact, you won’t be able to achive a zero-percent bounce rate, but a signification reduction is certainly possible!
* If you have any questions about server connections or website hosting, our Support Team is always there to lend a hand!
** We would be happy to post a more detailed article on one of the topics listed above at a later date. Simply let us know in the comments section or by email!
*** The average bounce rates stretch from 10% to 80%; simple landing pages are often even higher.
Bernhard Ehn, BA is our innovative marketing and communications expert who has been helping to shape the industry for more than 20 years. He has extensive experience in creating, developing and optimizing ads, corporate identities, websites and content. Many advertisement-types and methods devised by him are now among the industry's standards. As a lecturer, he also teaches at the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences. Privately, he actively engages in charity and loves singing, music, design and art.
Experience in keywords: creation, editing, branding, content marketing, social media marketing, performance marketing, SEO, SEM, corporate identities, incentivisation, above-the-line, below-the-line, websites, webdesign, webhosting, domains, etc.